WASHINGTON — Despite attacks that campaign contributions and paid speeches would make her captive to Wall Street, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not rule out tapping a Wall Street executive to be her Treasury secretary if elected president.
During a debate between Clinton and rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., on Wednesday, Clinton acknowledged fears about the so-called revolving door between the government and the private sector, but said executives in the financial sector may be the most qualified to lead Treasury.
"I will be looking for people who will put the interests of consumers first, who will do more to try to make sure Main Street flourishes … but I think it's important also to look at what we want to accomplish," Clinton said.
Clinton has supported a bill by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., that seeks to stop the revolving door and curb lobbyist influence on federal regulators.
Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and reform groups have said too many former Wall Street executives in government, suggesting that it is one reason "too big to fail" still exists.
During the debate, Clinton said she would consult with Warren on any choice for Treasury secretary.
"I will very much reach out and ask for advice as to who should be appointed, including to Sen. Warren and many of my other former colleagues in the Senate," Clinton said.
Some reform advocates saw that as a key admission on Clinton's part, demonstrating Warren's influence.
"With Clinton's nod toward Elizabeth Warren on Wall Street … this debate shows that the center of gravity has clearly shifted in the Democratic Party," Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said in a statement.
But Sanders continued to hammer Clinton over her ties to Wall Street and her support of the 2008 financial bailout while she claimed she is the toughest on Wall Street.
"I am proud that the gentleman who is head of Goldman Sachs … said I was dangerous," Sanders said. "And he is right, I am dangerous for Wall Street."
Clinton continued to defend her campaign and policy positions, saying, "I do have the toughest, most comprehensive plan to go after Wall Street."
"I have said no bank is 'too big to fail' and no executive is too powerful to jail, and I will use the powers that have now been passed by the Congress, by President Obama, who, incidentally, took a lot of money from Wall Street, which didn't stop him from signing into law the toughest regulations on the financial industry since the Great Depression," Clinton said.